cross cut vs micro cut

Paper shredders can also be categorized according to the type of shred they produce–cross cut vs micro cut. This is directly related to the kind of cut they apply to your documents.

In this article, we’re going to look at the most common types of paper shredders based on their cutting mechanism- the cross cut and micro cut models.

Cutting Mechanism

cross cut blades
Cross Cut Blades

A cross cut shredder cuts each paper sheet into strips and then reduces each strip into shorter lengths. Their cutting mechanism differs from the pasta cutter of the conventional strip-cut machines in that it involves the additional vertical cutting step.

Cross cut machines come in sizes ranging from the tabletop unit (suitable for light duty tasks) to the floor-standing machines with casters.

The micro cut cutting mechanism is as their name suggests. They’ virtually grind up all the documents you feed them with into a mulch-like pile.

Given that their blade structure involves complex interlocking teeth set, their output occupies less volume, unlike that of the same number of sheets produced by a cross cut machine.

The complexity factor of the micro cut model slows down its operation and reduces the number of sheets it can process simultaneously.

micro cut blades
Micro Cut Blades


The finer the particles your paper shredder produces, the more care its blades will need. As we’ve already seen above, reducing your documents into shorter, narrower bits requires more complex that does more work than the simple strip or cross cutting operation.

If your machine tends to slow down or process fewer sheets of paper than it did when you first set it up, it means you’ll need to lubricate it. However, allowing your machine to reach this point translates to neglect which can shorten its lifespan.

While the cross cut requires lubrication every time you empty its basket, the micro cutter requires lubrication every time you use it.

Beware: regardless of the type of shredder you’re using, it’s always advisable to avoid using petroleum-based oils/lubricants due to the fire risks. Instead, use oils specially made for shredders or the regular vegetable-based oils.


cross cut vs micro cut differences

The primary goal of a shredder is to protect your information from falling into the wrong hands by physically breaking it apart into pieces that can’t be reassembled easily.

That being said, the smaller the output particles, and the harder it is to put them back together.

Although some cross cut output short, narrow strips, they tend to offer less security compared to the Microcut models.

So, if your business falls into the categories regulated by the privacy law, you’ll need to invest in a shredder that meets the set output standards- a micro cut.

A cross cut meets the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that requires a simple shredder to dispose of patient records as well as other personally identifiable data.

Final Thoughts on Cross Cut vs Micro Cut

As you’ve seen, cross cut vs micro cut have several differences, the main one being that they output varying sizes and types of shreds to suit all your carrying security needs.

While the cross cut produces shreds with both horizontal and vertical cuts to make them look even smaller, the micro cut models shred your documents to higher security levels, producing incredibly tinier particles.

Which type of shredder fits your business needs?

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